Many people think that divers watches are the crème de la crème of the watch world. Whilst divers watches might be infinitely more popular than aviation watches, that doesn’t mean to say that they’re better. Especially if you have the funds to invest in the very best pilot watches.
It’s true that a lot of the features are similar in both types of watch. But, the simplicity that’s found in an aviation inspired timepiece is something quite desirable. Now, don’t get me wrong; if you’re looking for a tool that you can use, a divers watch may be the better option. They have a wide variety of different features. Historically, the divers watch has a thick, chunky bezel, which although popular, may not be what you’re looking for. The pilots watch is often a more subtle look, with a certain amount of sophistication.
So without further do, let’s have a look at what we believe to be 5 of the finest aviation watches available on the market today.
The Breitling Chronomat is the epitome of a classic pilot watch. Though it has the bulkier feel of a divers watch, it isn’t overstated and the subtle silver and gold style seem to work well as it has become one of Breitling’s more popular models within its price range.
It isn’t cheap at it’s price, but if you have the extra cash lying around, then you’d be hard pushed to find a watch better than the Chronomat.
IWC Big Pilot
The IWC is an understated watch that’s great for any occasion. Though you might think it would be better suited to evening wear, you’d be surprised at how you can pull this watch off with a casual look too.
Like many of the top range watches, it’s Swiss made. For those who aren’t watch experts, this means that this watch is prestigious in its build. There are critics of those who only go for Swiss watches in recent years saying that they’re overpriced. We don’t believe this to be the case, with Swiss watchmakers still leading the field in terms of build quality and functionality.
With it’s classic look and propeller-inspired hands, this model is hard to compete with if you’re looking for out and out quality.
Bell and Ross Aviation BR01
A sportier design that what you might expect from an aviation watch, the Bell and Ross model has all the sophistication of any of the other watches that we’ve listed.
It’s one of the heaviest duty rubber watches on the market. Now, I know what you’re think; rubber build and still as sustainable and valid as a steel watch? Well, yes. You won’t need to worry about this watch breaking any time soon, that’s for sure.
The Bell and Ross model encapsulates everything that you could need from an aviation watch.
Hamilton Khaki Pilot Watch
A more budget friendly option that the other watches that we’ve featured so far, the Hamilton Khaki watch isn’t afraid of grasping some unique aspects that are made to compete with other brands.
One thing that you might not like about this one is the sheer size of the face. Not just in terms of the display, but the watch strap itself has a 22mm width. This is particularly large when compared to other similar watches, so it might be something to bear in mind when considering this one.
It weighs almost 500 grams, so whilst it is a fairly hefty watch, you are getting a respectable quality for the price.
The Garmin D2 gets our pick for the best aviation watch for those with a budget. Whilst it isn’t the most attractive watch in our opinion, it gets picked for its sheer functionality.
The other pilot watches we have listed are more show watches, whereas the Garmin D2 is actually a great option if you’re looking for a solid watch that receives a flight plan directly from Garmin themselves (cool, right?!).
It’s super easy to set reminders on your Garmin D2 and it has a great altimeter, if you’re interested.
What makes a good aviation watch?
An aviation watch, also known or commonly referred to as a pilot watch, isn’t that much different to what you would consider a regular watch. Of course, that does depends on what you might perceive to be a regular watch; many people think that a regular watch would be considered a divers watch now, due to their popularity. If you’re wondering, the most common recognition that you’ll find for divers watches is that they’re waterproof and you have the ability to.. dive in them. Yeah, it isn’t rocket science.
So what’s of the most importance to pilots in terms of aviation? Well, primarily they are recognized by their large and clear numbers and writing on the face. It’s important for a pilot to be able to see the exact time clearly. There’s an emphasis on exact time, as it was extremely important for pilots to be able to recognize the time without error. Another reason that they’re normally slightly larger than other watches? Well, they used to be worn around a pilots jacket, hence the necessity for something big and bulky around the wrist.
Aside from this, probably the main feature that any good pilots watch will have is that it will be a chronograph watch. What does this mean? Well, in simple terms, this just means that it’ll be a stopwatch and have a timer. I know; chronograph makes it sound extremely fancy, but the fact is, it isn’t.In fact, the term chronograph has been one of the most popular marketing terms since the early sixties, with thousands of young men desperately wanting a chronograph watch without really knowing what it meant.
If you’re interested, this YouTube video gives a great insight into the more in depth uses of an aviation watch;